On Demand Writing for Students: Coaching Yourself for the SAT, ACT, and AP Essays

By Lynette Williamson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Reaching the Top of the Rubric

The previous chapters have discussed strategies designed to coach you to a passing score on standardized rubrics for on demand writing. However, if merely passing is not your goal, you can be coached into excelling on the same rubric. The upper echelons of most standardized rubrics look for artful syntactical variety, appropriate and varied word choice, and few, if any, mechanical errors. Essentially, the higher scores reflect sophisticated style.

Stylish writing is an acquired skill—some of you may already possess a sophisticated style worthy of a published writer, others of you may only be equipped with the plodding style of writers experienced at filling in the blanks on worksheets.

So how can you be coaxed into improving your style? Making you aware of simple stylistic blunders like shifts in point of view is an easy first step. Beyond that, however, the most frequently recommended remedy for lackluster style is to read more. Even if your busy schedule limits you to reading only class assigned literature, be sure you really read the texts. Ever notice when you read several pages written by a single author how his or her “voice” seems to be stuck in your head? Well, one strategy for improving your style is to capture and imitate that voice. Those of you taking the Spark Notes shortcut to preparing for class, are shortchanging yourself from developing a more varied and sophisticated syntax.

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